Greetings Fellow Cinephiles!
We’ve been working hard on our documentary, “The Reel Britain.” Here’s what we’ve been up to:
We started the process for this film by raising funds on Indiegogo. With those funds, we went to London and spoke to a film critic, a media professor, a filmmaker, and an actor about British cinema. Speaking to these brilliant individuals showed us that we knew very little about what was going on in the British film industry, despite our extensive preparations. There is only so much research you can extract from books, websites, and videos. It takes sharing the perspective of someone directly involved to truly open your eyes to the world you are exploring. And that is precisely what happened.
Originally, my concept for the film was simple albeit broad: I wanted to make a documentary that celebrated British cinema while discussing the unique issues the industry faces. The number one issue, in my opinion at the time, was the lack of film funding in the UK. Here is a nation whose raw, fresh, powerful films pricelessly contributed to cinema and the main factor holding them back from accomplishing more was money, or rather, lack thereof. It struck me as deeply unfair that these genuinely talented artists with unparalleled voices were being stifled to a faint whisper while billions of dollars were invested yearly in Hollywood silver screen trash.
We very quickly realized that while funding was an issue, it isn’t the only issue. In fact, during our discussions it was very seldom mentioned. Distribution and the British film industry’s complicated (occasionally competitive, often collaborative) relationship with Hollywood also greatly impact the industry’s success. Other deep questions arose during our discussions, including one that has influenced a major shift in the documentary’s focus: What exactly is the definition of a British film? What makes a film British? One of the most powerful things about cinema is that it presents us with the opportunity to explore the identities of other people and cultures without leaving the comfort of our home or local cinema. And so we have set out to examine the traces of British national identity in cinema. One of my goals for this film is to really convey that a British film does not necessarily mean an English film. It is a common conflation that we plan to address and clarify.
We spoke to some wonderful people this past March during our London filming. Kim Newman and his encyclopedic film knowledge and the admirable ease in which he discussed the cinema of different nations in conjunction with British film was an unforgettable interview. Julian Petley graciously bestowed wisdom on various areas of British cinema while bravely questioning the definition of Britishness. Elliot Grove boldly expressed opinions on several British industry issues as someone who firmly believes in supporting the fresh voices of independent filmmakers. His demystification of the elusive and often esoteric (but nonetheless emblematic) British film figures and organizations was deeply interesting. His interview was definitely a game changer. Tom Hiddleston shared his experience working on British productions where he witnessed the tireless effort British filmmakers invest in getting their films made as well as the insurmountable challenges they constantly overcome. Valuable insight coming not only from a talented industry professional, but someone who has enormous respect and admiration for British filmmakers and the art they create.
Our next round of interviewees are already taking shape. So far, we have secured Tony Garnett, long time producer who has famously worked with director Ken Loach, Mark Dinning, the Editor-in-Chief of the world renowned and beloved Empire Magazine, and Debs Paterson, director of “Africa United.” We will also be sitting down with Raindance/BIFA founder Elliot Grove again. We will update you as more interviews are secured.
As always, thank you for your support and belief in our crazy dream. You are all international superstars in my eyes. With fake handlebar mustaches and giant go-go boots. And florescent embroidered waistcoats. Oh yeah.
Director of ‘The Reel Britain’